Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 11, 2014 2:00am-4:01am EDT

2:00 am
you know what those impacts are to infrastructure, economy and to small businesses when a storm like that hits your state, and i would love to have a little bit of that perspective because i think it's important, as this grows and grows and this challenge faces us head on to understand how it's impacting your constituents and their small businesses and all the things that you have direct experience from your local government work. mr. booker: i'm grateful to the senator from new mexico for giving me this opportunity to just say a word about my state and just to keep the conversation going, if the senator from rhode island would indulge me in answering my question, but i'd like to get back to the senator from rhode island. i want to say to people perhaps watching this on c-span or others, the reason i'm so grateful for the senator from rhode island, because, you know, i've been here, again, for a little over four months but the senator from rhode island is -- and forgive me if this sounds in
2:01 am
any way disrespectful to say it this way -- but i almost think that the senator from rhode island reminds me of that movie "shawshank redemption." and i say that because one of my favorite parts of this movement -- i'm reminded that morgan freeman and the main character of the movie wanted to get a library for the -- for the prison and, frankly, that they -- their strategy was every single day to send a letter. and the reason why i have a tremendous respect for you is because you have been relentless, to my knowledge, in a way that i did not know about before i came to the senate. but relentlessly constantly, nonstop, not on one time when we're going an entire day, but every single week going to the floor and speaking to this iss issue, speaking truth to power,
2:02 am
using your office to try to not just speak to issues pertaining only to your state but to speak to issues that relate to our planet of the and i've generated a lot of respect for you and your consistency with that. mr. whitehouse: i appreciate that very much. and for the record, let me say, i will be morgan freeman all day long, and all night long, for that matter of the mr. brooker: you've got it. -- for all not long, for that matter. mr. booker: you've got it. for a moment let me answer the question because i'm grateful that you talked to me about what's happening in new jersey. and we know this, that no storm, no flood, no drought was caused singularly, no single episode can we say was caused by climate change. that would be irresponsible and give an opening for those people who choose to criticize those who talk about climate change, give an opening to pounce on that. but what we do know is that when these extreme weather events happen -- and i believe they're happening more frequently because climate change -- but
2:03 am
what we know factually is that when these extreme weather events happen, they become more extreme because of indisputable climate change that's happening. forest fires, as you said, become more extreme because of the warming climate. and we know in new jersey -- and we've seen that painfully from hurricane sandy -- that when flooding happens, it is more extreme and more severe because of rising sea water. and -- and so we know in new jersey that the storm had painful effects. and let me put numbers and then i want to talk about people. the numbers that affect people so dramatically are -- are powerful and i'm just going to read some of them here. and here is -- is a rutgers university report. that rising sea levels, as i mentioned before, mean
2:04 am
hurricanes will produce more severe damage, such as the damage caused by hurricane sandy. more frequent extreme weather events, heat waves, inland flooding from heavier rains present the growing challenge to our new jersey economy and to the environment and to the everyday way of life of new jerseyans. and i say to americans. the images left by sandy's wakes are seared into the minds of so many new jerseyans. we saw what happened to some of our most precious parts of our state up and down the coast. and the state's vulnerability to these extremes we see. the storm and its immediate aftermath resulted in 34 people dying in the state of new jers jersey. and it cost new jerseyans an estimated $37 billion. the storm in its entirety impacted and claimed more than
2:05 am
150 lives. and exceeded $50 billion in damage. in new jersey, nearly 7 million people and 1,000 schools lost power. transit systems and streets were completely flooded, damaging our infrastructure. and more than 8,000 jobs were lost in the months after the storm. power interruptions that lasted for days and days putting people into heartship. as a mayor of the city, i saw that those power disruptions actually cost people lives. we had two people that without power in the city of newark that tried to sustain themselves by creating artificial heat which produced carbon monoxide in which their died from. hurricane sandy displaced more than 116,000 and damaged or destroyed 346,000 in new jersey.
2:06 am
we see in our state these horrific stories and know for a fact that should more hurricanes hit with rising see levels, they're going to do more and more extreme damage. and so what i wanted to do, in answer to your question, is those were numbers. but the stories that came from hurricane sandy rip your gut out. here's one story. of christine, a homeowner in toms river, as reported in the "huffington post." they evacuated her house before hurricane sandy hit and then returning found a hastily scrawled note by a person who had broken into her house and taken a blanket and a black jacket to keep hypothermia at bay. the author of the note was sure
2:07 am
he was dying. you see, these storms rushed in so quickly and so severely that it -- it -- it put people in conditions where life and-and death happen quick. i saw them as mayor of new york. one of the people that died in my city due to hurricane sandy, were folks we came to evacuate from the lower east side of newark. i'm never forget that because the young men said they did not want to leave, they were going to stay in the higher part of the building. but one went to move their cars competent exact time that the water was rising and he drowned. the man identified himself as a 28-year-old man named exphiec left contact information so the homeowner could contact his father and tell him that he had
2:08 am
died. the note reads, "whoever reads this, i'm dying." i'm a 28-year-old. my name is mike. i had to break into your house. i took blankets off the coach. i have hypothermia. i didn't take anything. a wave threw me out of my office and down the block. i don't think i'm going to make it. the water is 10 feet deep at least. there's no rescue. tell my dad i love him and i'm trying to get out. his number is -- and he gives the number -- his name tony. i hope you can read this in the dark. i took a black jacket, too. goodbye. god, almighty, help me. the last words of a hurricane sandy victim made its rounds on social media. and in an interview later, though, mike told listeners the harrowing story of how he was
2:09 am
swept out to sea. i just want to do a couple more quick vignettes. theresa, 41, middleset county, new jersey. walking out of my house the morning after the storm and seeing my neighborhood. it was unreal. it was like a war zone. we were unprepared for what happened. here's june, 51, union beach, new jersey. "living through the storm in one of the hardest-hit bay towns of new jersey, i've learned that god is good. in the midst of the hardships and trauma i, saw his love through average people, people who cared enough to smile, serve, hug and weep with me. i saw such compassion in young and old. i saw the best in humanity." and this is what should be driving us at the core the harrowism we see as these extreme weather continues made force by climat climate change s the grit of america.
2:10 am
it shows our strength and our courage, our willingness to be there for one another in times of crisis. but the point of the matter is, is we are in a larger crisis right now and that demands we should act. there's an old saying, the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. well, good people in new jersey did a lot during her cape sandy, as our state had -- hurricane sandy, as our state had billions of dollars of damage, displaced people who are still not back in their homes. but as we look at rising sea levels in and around new jersey, we know that if future storms hit, that the damage as the sea level rises will be increasingly work. and so we have an affirmative obligation to act.
2:11 am
that's who we want as americans. we see that right now in our country there is a crisis. it's unmistakable. every senator that's spoken tonight has pointed to charts with the facts. we temporarily earlier about the military recognizing what's happen. but this body, the question will be asked, did this body, when the evidence was clear, when the dam was being done, when homeowner after family after neabfarm town, after urban area, when we knew the crisis was coming did we do everything to prevent that challenge? that feeling of economic, emotional, physical pain from coming to boor? and so i ask you real quick. i'd like to switch back to you
2:12 am
for just a sec second. the cost of not doing anything is getter but you mentioned early before the benefit of acting. i think that was one of the more powerful parts of your remarks. that actually there's rewards foincreating jobs. environmental improvingal conditions. and saving money. i would wonder willing if you could highlight some more that have ingate inned action. -- inlightenned action. mr. heinrich: through the the chairthe chair,i want to thank m new mexico because we need to take some inspiration from folks
2:13 am
all around the country, who have faced up to superstorm sandy. it shows when we put our minds to it, americans can accomplish just about anything. and we need to take that inspiration and find the will in this body to move forward on what we know are the facts and to start to have the conversation that we're going to put in place to make sure that we do meet that challenge? and how are we going to do it in a way that hiss what the senator from financial negligent has saifrom newjersey has not is thw people in this country care so much about the fact that we need jobs and we need economic development. and even though you can look at the stock market and say they're been some sort of a recover in this country, i think most of our constituents will tell you
2:14 am
they'll not feeling it. and we have an opportunity here to create a whole new generation of jobs. and the question is: are we going to create them here in the united states or are we going to let somewhere else in the world. one of the speaker earlier tonight, the senator from massachusetts it was, brought up the incredible innovations that have happened in recent year in the auto industry in this country, with hybrids, plug-in hybrids. certainly my state right now is one on of the exern states competing if, if you will, to try and get setl performing company to possibly put their battery manufacturing facility in the state of m new mexico.
2:15 am
they're looking at a number of states. but we think with our combination of two national laboratories, los alamos and sandy a. thsandia, the transpore have. that we offer if unique that we hope they will look at as they're deciding where to put that facility. but think of all the job. in an industry and a company that people a few years ago wouldn't have believed it. mr. boomer: mr. booker: you're talking about tesla's innovative company of today. you and i were sharing some stories earlier. this goes to the point of ingenuity of our country and i know some of the people involved in tesla. i'm so inspired. but you years ago, when you were
2:16 am
not quite, i think, in high school markers or college - -- n high school maybe, or college -- in college, got involved in building solar cars and racing around our country. that's just a tribute to the lessons of what you're talking about is that, one is, we're the leader ghoablly of innovation. but we're also the leader globally of innovation and preparing people. this idea -- and i see it in schools in newark in new jersey, kids innovating in sciences, kids using technology and using the platforms created by big companies to do things that have value and worth, and so i'm going to put you on the spot because you were -- forget tess larks but far before we even knew what tesla was, you were doing something with solar cars back in college. mr. heinrich: so before there was a tess larks i guess when i was in -- so before there was a tesla, i guess, when i was in
2:17 am
college in the recallly 1990's, one of the things that makes me such a strong believer in innovation and eelly gives me the optimism to say that we can do just about anything as a country when we set our mind to it, we joined the sun race in 1993, the college that i attended, and a number of my colleagues who were studying electrical engineering -- i was studying mechanical engineering. we had people who were studying material science. we all got together and we designed and built a carbon fiber solar car that we raced across the united states. we raced from dallas, texas, up to minneapolis, minnesota. and people would ask us along the way, you know, when are we going to be driving solar cars? and that was really -- really wasn't quite the point but it was a quite opening to say, this isn't about -- we're not going to have solar cars because you
2:18 am
need a pretty big car in order to get enough sunlight to do the jofnlt but it is about driving that innovation and engaging the best, you know -- we have the best education system at the collegiate level in the world. and putting it to work to make sure that we're growing the next generation of jobs and the opportunity that that represents. and while there aren't solar cars driving around the united states today, there are now electric cars. and many of the fundamental innovations that we made are now showing up throughout the auto industry. in fact, you know, one of the things that if you look at how disruptive the toyota prius a few years ago, one of the reasons why it was so efficient a little thing called regenerative breaking where when you step on the brakes, instead of all that energy being wasted to heat through the brakes, it gets turned into electricity and
2:19 am
put back in the batteries in the car. now you're seeing that in hybr hybridhybrids throughout the auo industry. that's something we used in the early 1990's on this contest with our solar car. we had l.e.d. lights long before anybody had l.e.d. lights on our car. we were making turn signals and lights on the solar car with l.e.d.'s. we built our car out of carbon fiber. it kind of looked like an upside down wing. all of these kinds of noinvations are now standard fare. they're things that get used in the american auto industry, in cars built right here in the united states to make all of our cars more efficient and to create some really good jobs along the way. and i believe we ought to be able to do that more broadly with clean energy technology to help address some of these climate issues. mr. booker: and may i -- you
2:20 am
know, i think your point has been seen in history. when you and i were not even born, a president put forth a noble ambition to make the moon not a dream but a destination. and what he did is he set in motion by charting a course for america to be first, to lead the globe, to be the innovators, to go beyond human imagination. it actually affected all the way down to our schools and our classrooms, where kids were studying, generations came up. and not only did we win the space race, but it fueled new technologies, new innovations for our generation. think about this. this company in silicon valley called keyhole which looked at the satellite information born out of the space race, and now it was bought by another company
2:21 am
called google, and it's google maps that you and i probably both have on our phone. and it's amazing that when america has this attitude that we're not going to put our heads in the sand and deny that a new world is upon us, we're going to lead the country, it has multipliers of collateral benefits that are not anticipated. as mayor, i found out -- i became not a convert, because i knew this was an issue, but i become a zealot about this idea that you can create a multiplier effect of benefits when you talk and innovate around making the american dream a green dream. and if i can share this with you, you know, we can see -- in a 2012 report by the rockefeller foundation, it was estimated that more than $279 billion could be invested in retrofitting of existing buildings for energy efficiency.
2:22 am
this goes back to the point we were talking about job creation, leading. this investment, they said, the rockefeller foundation study, could yield more than $1 trillion of energy savings over ten years, reducing united states emissions by as much as 10% and could create -- this is the kicker -- you're creating energy savings. you're making the emissions reduced, creating healthier environment, dealing with cities like mine that are on these heat islands, the one -- newark and camden, heat islands that ratchet up as marks lower those -- ratchet up asthma, lower those emissions, lower the heat in those areas. has many collateral benefits. but this is the one we should be talking about right now, we're aa coming oust a recession.
2:23 am
it could create more than 3.3 million new jobs direct and indirect in the united states economy. that's just by invest in retrofitting, getting a a retur, reducing energy costs for families, for governments. these jobs cannot be outsourced. they're not about foreign competition. it's about pitting people -- it's about putting people here to work. not dole these retrofits energy guys local workers, the vast majority of the materials come from where, senator? mr. heinrich: right here at home. mr. booker: right here. energy retrofitzs are manufactured in the united states of america. this is the collateral benefit. this is the multiplier effect that we're talking about. attic installation, replacement windows, new furnaces, more than 90% of the energy-efficient materials are made in the u.s., putting americans to work, fueling our economy, making us
2:24 am
strong and successful on a multiple of layers. and that is all in just one segment of the green commitment of i'm just talking about retrofitting. hundreds of thousands of jobs have already been created, as you know and i know, in the wind and solar sectors. people don't know, new jersey is one of the leaders in the solar industry. only california does better than we do. and those sectors are still in their infancy. we can have a healthy environment and a healthy economy. these false choices that people seem to be saying are there are false choices. it's not the tyranny of the "or." it's the liberation of the "an "and." they are not exclusively. when i was makers we took action -- when i was mayor, we took action. we worked with the building trades. they created a labor's local, local 5 in my area that focused on weathercizing residential properties in newark.
2:25 am
we created newark residents who were taught how to perform energy audits and residential retrofits. our residents had new job opportunities and aour homeowners who participated in the program saw energy savings. we first did it as a pilot focusing on senior citizen homes in the south ward of my city, and it was amazing. they were seeing reductions in energy costs of 25% or more. it was amazing. so we were able to save senior citizens money, employ young people from our community, and improve our environment all the same. we found that this was all over on the issues. we knew one of the issues was just planting trees. we said, hey, we're going to take action by increasing our tree can parliamentary inquiry. we brought -- by increasing our tree canopy. we began the process of making newark greern and cooler.
2:26 am
you and i both know that one of the greatest definition definitf leadership, the greater leaders are those that plant trees under whose shade they will never sivment and us by sak taking acn on climate change, we will benefit genera generations to c. the exciting thing for me is it is going to help news our economy right now. and this is why this doesn't have to be a political issue. it could be one about pragmatism, where left and right can come together. and if you allow me on that point of left and right coming together, i want to tell you that this should not be a political issue. the opportunities are too great for america to lead, for us to bolster our economy, for us to improve our environment, for us to reduce these savage, savage weather anomalies. and what inspires me about this is that there are a lot of people that are republicans that are realizing, this is not a
2:27 am
republican-democrat issue, because when forest fires rage in new mexico, they hurt republicans, democrats, be ins in your state. when droughts hit in the midwest, they hurt the farms of republicans, democrats, and independents. when the lobster industry suffers? -- when the lobster industry suffers in maine, when scallops in cape may -- i'd like to get your comment afterwards -- i love this editorial. it is worthy of reading into the record right now. the writers are former administrators for the e.p.a. look at this the: people like lee thomas and william kelly and this incredible woman from new jersey named christie todd whitman. she was our governor.
2:28 am
she came and joined the bush administration. these are heads of the e.p.a., people who had to deal with the facts, the pragmatism every single day. their job was to analyze what's going on around the country. they wrote a letter and i think it's worthy of readings, if the senator will indulge me. thank you. they say, "we served republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation. the united states must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change at home and internationally." and i'm telling you right now -- you know this -- when we lead, other nations follow. they continue, "there is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts.
2:29 am
our world continues to warm. with the last decade the hottest in modern records. and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth's atmosphere. sea level is rising. arctic ice is melting years faster than projected. the costs of inaction are undeniable. the lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous, and the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller. delay could mean that warming becomes locked in. a market-based approach" -- snorks yosenator, you and i, i , beeive in the free market. but we know that we see
2:30 am
businesses now who are internalizing profits and externalizing costs. i see this in new jersey. we're cleaning up the paseic river, costing taxpayer dollars. you're complaining about high taxes. it's a going to this kind of stuff. cleaning up the passic river because corporations and businesses dumped pollutants in there. hey, some future generation will pay for t but we are that future generation. so getting back to this -- because i love the free market, but i want people who externalize the cost or internalize it. if you're polluting the air, hurting the planet, you need to pay for that. a market-based approach like a carbon tax would be the best path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions but that is
2:31 am
unachievable in the current gridlock in washington. dealing with this political reality, president obama's june climate action plan lays out achievable actions that would deliver real progress. this is amazing to me. four republicans serve under republican presidents as heads of the e.p.a. are saying president obama's june climate action plan lays out achievable actions that would deliver real progress. the president also plans to use his regulatory power to limit the powerful warming chemicals called hydrofluorocarbons. now, people understandably -- and i think you and i are two of those -- don't like overregulations, but the reality is you're releasing this stuff, pollutants into the air, we should be doing something about those releases. mr. heinrich: if the senator will yield for just a minute, we have learned time and time again that when you allow the market to have -- to be able to
2:32 am
innovate, to deal with these same kinds of challenges, whether it's nox and sox or other pollutants that we have been able to address in the past, whether it was the hole in the ozone layer. i mean, talk about a global issue of pollution. the market was able to solve those. mr. booker: i just don't know if you were alive during the time we dealt with that issue. mr. heinrich: i think i read it in a book somewhere. mr. booker: allow me to continue because you're absolutely right. we have done -- and i have heard some incredible examples of other senators talking about things we did. i loved the senator from maine's story about the pull top of the cans. mr. heinrich: it reminded me of growing up as i did, my mother worked in the auto industry, and there was a time when we had this great debate. i remember my grandfather
2:33 am
complaining based on something he heard on the radio about these -- these catalytic converters that were going to ruin the american auto industry. and what happened when we decided to clean up the emissions from the auto industry, we actually created an entire new industry around catalytic converters that for many, many years afterwards was an export industry for the united states because since we took the first step, none of the other countries understood the technology well, could manufacture it well, and so we were literally as the rest of the world followed our lead to clean up their pollution, they were importing our catalytic converters. and you could look at example after example where that's been the case when you allow the market to innovate, you can solve the most challenging pollution problems. mr. booker: i love that, senator. never bet against america's
2:34 am
ability to innovate, to be resilient, to be industrious. so here goes. i continue on this article, this editorial written by four past republican e.p.a. directors. the president also plans to use his regulatory power to limit the powerful warming chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons and encourage the united states to join with other nations to amend the montreal protocol to phase out these chemicals. the landmark international treaty which took effect in 1989 already has been hugely successful in solving the ozone problem. rather than argue against his proposals, our leaders in congress should endorse them and start the overdue debate about what bigger steps are needed and how to achieve them domestically and internationally. as administrators of the e.p.a. under presidents nixon, president ronald reagan,
2:35 am
president george bush and george w. bush, we held fast to the commonsense conservative principles protecting the health of the american people. working with the best technology available and trusting in the innovation of american business, and in the market to find the best results for the least costs, highlighting your words, senator. that approach helped us tackle major environmental challenges to our nation and the world, the pollution of our rivers dramatized when the cuyahoga river in cleveland caught fire in 1969, the hole in the ozone layer and the devastation wrought by acid rain, all points just made by the senator from new mexico.
2:36 am
they continue -- the solutions we supported worked. government acted. they worked, although more must be done. our rivers no longer burn and their health continues to improve. the united states led the world when nations came together to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. acid rain diminishes each year thanks to a pioneering market-based emissions trading system adopted under the first president bush in 1990, and despite critics warning, our economy continued to grow. climate change puts all our progress and our successes at risk. it says what you said, senator, and what so many others.
2:37 am
the climate change puts all of our successes and our communities like toms river, like cape may town, puts all of our communities at risk. if we could articulate one framework for successful governance, perhaps it should be this -- when confronted with a problem, deal with it. look at the facts, cut through the extraneous device and devise a workable solution and get it done. we can have both a strong economy and a livable climate. all parties know that we need both. the rest of the discussion is either detail which we can resolve or purposeful delay which we should not tolerate. mr. obama's plan is just a start. more will be required, but we
2:38 am
must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. the only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get and how soon. what is most clear is that there is no time to waste. senator, that's republicans that echo to me these words, and i know you know who wrote them, but i'm going to read them first and cite them later, if you're okay with that. you heard four republicans speaking today echoing the words of someone who wrote in the 1960's. we are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. we are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. in this fun, unfolding conundrum
2:39 am
of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. procrastination is still the they thief of time. life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. the tide in the affairs of men does not remain at floods. it ebbs. we may cry out desperately for time to pause in our passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words too late. and that, as you know, obviously, is the words of martin luther king. too late. i know for people in new jersey
2:40 am
who stand with the understandable anguish of a state still recovering from hurricane sandy, that should the sea levels continue to rise in the coming years, we know citie like atlantic city and others could see not hundred-year floods but ten-year floods that will severely damage those cities' even ability to continue as we know them today. for my state, there can be no too late. we must act now. and you see that urgency as well in new mexico, correct? mr. heinrich: i do, and i think it's worth noting that when you talk about those four republican administrators of the e.p.a., they have all looked at the history of -- of this argument and how it really reflects a conversation we have had since the 1960's about -- i think you
2:41 am
put it so eloquently that -- that it's not about jobs and -- or quality of life. it has to be about both. and those admin administrators of the e.p.a. have -- those republican administrators of the e.p.a. have watched as the clean water act and the clean air act and the work that was done on the montreal protocol, all of those debates were fundamentally identical to this one. people said this is going to cost too much, that we are going to lose jobs if we make these decisions to clean up our environment, and what happened, if you look back at 1980 and you look at today and the changes, the policy changes that were made, we have a g.d.p. that is twice as big as what we had in 1980. we have doubled our country's economic out put. at the same time we have cleaned up our air and cleaned up our water and said we're going to
2:42 am
have the cleanest country in the world. we're not going to be like china where kids walking to school have to wear masks and can't play outside. and you know, when you think about young people in this country, the thing that always strikes me is that when you talk about climate change and when i go home, people are concerned about impacts, they are concerned about the things that we talked about before, the -- not the fact that forest fires are happening but that they're happening too often and so much -- with such extreme fire behavior now and the fact that drought is getting to be the norm, not the exception. but kids understand this issue. young people understand this issue in a way that just calls out for action, and i think it's why it's so important that we're doing this tonight to send the message that we're hearing them. because when i talk to high school students or i talk to
2:43 am
kids in junior high or at college campuses, they understand that they are inherit ing all of the weight of the inaction. since the time -- i remember as a kid watching three, two, one contact and having explanations of how does the greenhouse affect work and what is this going to do long term, and here we are close to 35 years later and we're seeing the impacts, and our kids and our grandkids are going to see impacts a whole lot more extreme than even what your constituents and my constituents have already shouldered. and we can't wait any more. we have a moral obligation. we can argue about what the best way to address these challenges is, and we should. we should find a way to -- to address these challenges that -- that gets the buy-in of a
2:44 am
majority of this deliberative body. but we can't step aside any longer and say we're not going to act. that would be irresponsible. mr. booker: and i want to ask you about some of the vulnerable communities in your state, but i would like to go about it this way. you know, i have such great memories of my father and my grandfather, both of whom have passed away. i remember my grandfather because probably the first time i passed through your state was in a mobile home that my grandfather took us and drove cross country. packed us all in a mobile home and i saw america, north and south. we did that a number of times. i still remember standing with him and looking at mount rushmore. i still remember him -- and my grandfather was a guy who had a great sense of humor. he didn't know -- if he didn't know a historical fact, he would just make it up, but he taught us in some -- many great ways to
2:45 am
just appreciate and love this country. and my father was the same way. he grew up in the mountains of north carolina. he took me up there with such pride as a little boy and showing me mountains and lakes and i fell in love. my mom, too, in taking me around new jersey to some of our great parks and hiking the palisades of new jersey, just incredible memories on the jersey shore and walking the boardwalk with my hand in my parents' hands. and all these memories are so great. and my father had this story that i think makes this point about tonight, one of the slogans of tonight was "wake up." my father tells a story about a guy walking along and sees out on the porch a man sitting in a rocking chair and his hound dog sitting next to him. and the hound dog is just
2:46 am
howling away as if in great paifnlt the man says, what's wrong with your dog? why is he howling so much? the man says, he's signature on a naism the man says, why doesn't he get up? because -- the man says because he's not hurting bad enough yet. and i tell you, the story used to always get me because my father used to always say, he'd say, son, get up. don't tolerate bad. you're better than that. and don't just lie there. and i think about our country and know our history. you had and i have been talking about our history. you and i are born in an amazing generation. after this modern civil rights movement. we're born after going to the moon. so much of what we've been talking about is about the history of our elders who did give to us a country of unbridled possibilities. we are america, but we are hurt.
2:47 am
we are hurt. and we represent communities that see a lot of that exaifnlt this is the point i want to make to you, which i heard senator landrieu from louisiana on the debate about flood insurance and how these waters are rising and these are becoming more severe problems. i heard some of my northeastern colleagues talk about the erosion, how we're losing acres and acres every year with the rising of the sea levels, and one of the times i got very moved listening to senator landrieu talk. she was reacting against these people that said, this is just about people that have their vacation homes. that's in new jersey as well. what bothered me about that is what many folks don't realize is the pain of climate change often affects the most vulnerable americans most. the poorest people. she was talking about those people that make a living, scratch out a living in her
2:48 am
state, whose livelihoods, who have really not that many other choices. i was in cape may county talking to these fishermen and listening to the kind of tough jobs they have. these aren't people that are millionaires. they go out there -- talk about an honest day's work. i have to say, i am a northern new jersey boy listening to these men talk about the toils of pulling from the sea -- cape may is one of the most productive areas to bring in the sea's bounty in our country. they said it was number four. to hear them talk about their jobs, but their fear -- their worry in their eyes that with the warming waters, their catch is moving northward, that they're getting less out of the sea. i know this as a mayor -- a former mayor of newark. i see when i go to my schools
2:49 am
and i talk to school nurses and they use the word "epidemic" with asthma, seeing that the warming climate and what it's doing to the lung development on these heat islands. i know from sandy that when a storm like that hits, everybody assumes, well, why don't you just get in your car, drive someplace, stay in a hotel? well, many people, number one, don't have cars, can't just pull out of their pocket a couple hundred bucks to stay in a nice hotel for a month or two months. when they lose their home, they lose everything. and then when they're coming back, they're told they have to build in a certain way. and so this is something that affects us all. as king said, to quote him again, in the letters to the birmingham jail, we're all caught in an inescapable network of destiny.
2:50 am
in america there's no republican destiny and democrat destiny. we are one destiny here. but the truth is, in this country, though, the people that often most immediately impacted by this growing problem are these vulnerable populations. and we got to talk more about these folks. can't hire lobbyists to come down here. they don't represent some dislai we give tax breaks to. folks that can't engage in expensive fund-raisers. and you have a state with, again, the goodness that you've done educate me -- i hope i've done as good a job to educate you about new jersey -- and you're welcome to come to our state. mr. heinrich: i'm looking afford forward that visit, too. mr. booker: but he have a got everything from native american people to urban -- you have a very diverse state. i'm wondering if you can talk for a moment about the urgency that you see with this problem
2:51 am
for the more vulnerable populations that are really becoming -- the situation that they're having right now is becoming much more dire, that should call to the consciousness of our country, should challenge our morality as a people, should expand our moral imagination about what we can do, should do, and must do. mr. heinrich: i think -- i think, senator, you really hit the nailt on the head when you said that those among us with the least economic means often bear the highest cost. and that is certainly true in new mexico. as you know, we have enormous economic challenges. we have communities where people can't afford to get up and move just because conditions change. we've had literally cities where wells run dry and there's no water.
2:52 am
reservoirs run dry and there's no water. las vegas has come within -- las vegas, new mexico, has come within a amongst or two several times now of their reservoir literally going dry. towns like magdalena, in new mexico, their well, they lost water to the city for -- to the town for a number of weeks and had to come up with a plan for how to deal with that and diversify their water supply again, at huge cost to local residents, the state. these are real challenges being borne by people who do not have discretionary income to be throwing at these challenges. you know, we have people who live a very traditional lifestyle who are living in these forests, who are, you know, when we have wildfires,
2:53 am
they're the first to bear the economic brunt of that. a understanand we've seen the it brought has had -- you mentioned the fishing off the coast of new jersey. that's kind of how many of our traditional communities view mule deer and elk and the wild game that has always called new mexico home. we disee sesee direct impacts tr wildlife population. when the mule deer population crashes or you have a fire that literally you can't hunt in the place that you used to hunt because this year it's closed because they had a replacing fire and they're not letting anybody in there are people that rely on that activity to get them through the winter. those impacts are always felt by the people who can -- who have the least means to be in control
2:54 am
of that situation. and that is an enormous challenge that i think we should do a better job of illustrating some of those stories and making sure that we make it clear just what the impacts are to the people who have the least means to, as you said, go stay in a hotel simply because there is an extreme weather event on the coast of new jersey or there is a fire in new mexico. there are many -- many of my constituents couldn't afford to stay in a hotel. and they're the ones bearing the brunt of the challengees. traditional farming communities, they get cut off in the irrigation season, used to be able to grow -- if you get cut off when you're halfway to a crop that produces some sort of production. it's not like growing grass oral fail farks but you literally cut
2:55 am
off the water before your crop comes in you lose it all. even if you got to 90%, but you dingts--but you didn't quite geo where your crop produces, you can lose it awvment those are the kind of impacts that my constituents feel when we have some of these extreme weather events. mr. booker: i guess what gets me emotional, i have to say, is that i don't need to imagine what the future will be like because i see it in the urban area i represented for the last seven-plus years. let me go a little benefit more deeper into what i mean. we wanted to do urban gardening. and we were told by environmental rerlgts in our state that we -- rerlgt in our sthait we -- regulators in our state that we don't know dig into the soil because the soil was toxic.
2:56 am
the soil was toxic because folks put things into the soil. so i've got a city that we are the biggest urban farming city in new jersey, newark is. but they do their planting in beds above ground. i've already talked to about the air quality and this is why so many cities in new jersey are now working very hard and are proud to put tree canopies or what have you. you go to urban places around this country and you'll see the same thing, now separated from your air, separated from your soil. you go to your river. people used to make -- if you were poor, you could grues to the river and get some shellfish. go fishing, eat a meal. but somebody took that away. and now you can't do that. now you got to find money you can and see if you can buy something from the store, when nature used to provide that in the pasaic river. so you're separated from your
2:57 am
water. so the collateral damage often to populations, i don't have to see what that's going to be liefnlg sigh ilike. i see it nowvment there's which is come to though in my community. there's still wisdom. if you allow me to show you the story, i've learned my best lessons from some of the most humbleest folk who know this wisdom. it's something about the d.n.a. of human beings that now we've got to respect the environment that gives us all. we are a people that used to be an agrarian society and in my city there was a man -- you talked about this gentleman in a state of the city address once ho -- who was living in a high rise building across the street from a lot that was fenced in by some iron but the iron was giving way, so it was just full of debris and junk, and there
2:58 am
were some guys that dealt drugs out of there. people looked at that as a anker just don't go to. this guy dot a stimulus check in the mail and you were saying before how often expensive it is. james baldwin even said something like this once, the great american thor that it is very expensive to be poomplet but i also find those with the least are the most generous to others. and so this guy instead of saying, hey, this is a retired state worker he was -- he is. and instead of just saying, this great check i got in the mail. he didn't do that. he said i'm going to use this check. so he went and bought a lawn mower and a rake and materials, and he went into this lot that the drug dealers were using. elderly man just goes into the lot and he tended to the earth. cleaned it up. mowed the lawn. a little bit every day.
2:59 am
didn't do it at all once. at first people were worried about his safety. but the drug dealers didn't pay him any mind. tended to the earth. before you knew it, he became a hero in his building. not just because that lot became looking nicer than the white house lawn down the road, but because after he made it look so beautiful, what happened to the drug dealers? they left. they left that spot. when i heard about this guy, i went to visit him in his building. it was just to me this amazing story of the pride people have, of the desire they have to take care of their communities. mr. heinrich: and, senator, the awe macing thing is that -- the amazing thing is that in our conversations, we have sort of educated each other on these two states that are kind of close to each other in the alphabet but miles and miles apart. you have a coastline.
3:00 am
we don't have anything resembling an ocean, anywhere near us. just incredibly different histories and yet so many of the same kinds of issues. and i think we -- you know, another state that has a whole different set of issues and yet has many of the same threads that run through all of that is the state of hawaii that our colleague, senator schatz from hawaii, who has taken it upon himself to organize this, i have been amazed at the things that my home state of new mexico has in common with your state. and i would wonder if the senator would maybe spend a little time talking about what inspires him in -- in his constituents when you see how they are stepping up and doing what we need to do here in the united states
3:01 am
senate, recognizing that there is a problem here and that we as a nation -- or at least in our communities have the potential to solve these challenges. mr. booker: while we do this, can we just pause for station identification in the sense that the senator from hawaii really is the ringleader, so to speak, of bringing together such extraordinary -- almost 24-hour period, and you have done a great job in pulling your colleagues together. there has been more than two dozen senators. but i just want to thank you for your leadership, your extraordinary leadership, frankly, on bringing this issue to the floor. you spoke eloquently to me not in the chamber about some incredible stories about hawaii and the impact of severe weather change. so i am very much looking forward to hearing that right now. i just do want to say that right after i turned 17 and got my new jersey driver's license, one of the earliest places i drove was a trip -- the only trip i have
3:02 am
ever taken was to hawaii. i found it to be an extraordinary state, except for one thing. mr. heinrich: you didn't drive to hawaii. mr. booker: i did not drive to hawaii. thank you for that clarification for the congressional record. but i do want to say that hawaii was a paradise except for it lacks some fundamental things. one it lacked a good jersey diner. and so i want to -- the senate senate -- in a future career, you might want to open up a diner. it would be so successful there. please, senator, go ahead. a senator: i thank the senator from new jersey and the senator from new mexico. thank you so much to both of you for such an energetic discussion at this early or late hour, depending on how you define it. mr. schatz: it is nearing bedtime in my home state, but for the rest of us across the nation, many of us are asleep, but we are up for climate.
3:03 am
the hashtag is up4climate. we encourage you to jump on that hashtag. i really want to thank both of the senators for participating in that discussion. look, i spent a fair amount of time on the senate floor today talking about how serious, how dire and how real climate change is, but i think it's important consistent with what senator kaine from virginia and senators booker and heinrich have talked about to talk about the opportunity for american leadership in economic innovation and technological innovation. there are such incredible opportunities for our country in innovation that it's really worth drilling down and talking about the details. first, let's talk about bat ray storage. one of the challenges in the state of hawaii is this -- we have abundant wind and solar
3:04 am
energy and we are the most isolated populated place on the planet and we burn still 85% of our energy as fuel oil. in other words, we import oil and burn it for electricity, which is really at this point in time unheard of, overall expensive. three to four times the national average is what we pay for our electricity. it is really hurting us in the pocketbooks. and so we are adopting solar and wind and other clean energy resources as fast as we possibly can, but the challenge with a grid system that is island by island is this -- when you need the energy, you need the energy, and if the sun is not shining and it is the evening time for the wind is not blowing, you need either dispatchable power or some other kind of reliable power. and so the breakthroughs with battery storage that are being driven by this new clean energy economy in the state of hawaii
3:05 am
are really extraordinary. the technicians that have run the utility companies for many, many years used to think that the maximum penetration of renewable energy onto the grid, a grid like hawaii ought to be around 15%. we blew through 15% of parts of our grid three or four years ago. there are parts of our grid that are in the high 20's and low 30's. so we are on the bleeding edge of all of this. and the good news is that both on the utility side in terms of battery storage and on the consumer side and on the power producer side, we were making tremendous breakthroughs in battery storage. that brings us to this overall question of the smart grid. the smart grid means a lot of things to a lot of people. it means increasing our infrastructure in the case of either man made or a natural
3:06 am
disaster. it means we are not wasting energy by curtailing power. now, what is curtailing power? it basically means that sometimes there is clean energy coming onto the grid that cannot be used. because battery storage is still overall expensive, there is no way to store that energy. and so although the wind is gloing on the island of maui, sometimes the wind is blowing, the turbines are turning and we can't utilize that power because we don't have a smart enough grid. so what we are doing is attracting investment from all over the planet to develop a smart grid. we have a partnership in maui county and with the state of hawaii with the hitachi corporation and the japanese government, and they are investing tens of millions of dollars in little maui county to better understand how to integrate large-scale penetration of renewable energy into a relatively small grid. there is a new area that i am wondering about where we're
3:07 am
really innovating in the state of hawaii, and that is aerodynamics and hydrodynamics. now, unlike the presiding officer, i do not have a background in engineering, but i understand aerodynamics and hydrodynamics in the following way. it's basically trying to get things to move through water or air as efficiently as possible, and this has tremendous implications. as you can imagine, the air force is very interested in aerodynamics because fuel costs are really out of control for all branches of the service but in particular the air force and the navy. the navy is also looking at hydrodynamics to try to figure out how their ships and other vessels can move through the water as efficiently as possible. again, not for conservation reasons. not because they are interested in acting on climate, but because they want to save money on fuel. and so we are making real good progress in aerodynamics and
3:08 am
hydrodynamics. we have a company right now that has a test case that they think they can increase the productivity of a wind turbine by 15% to 25%. now, what would that mean? if they can actually prove this technology out, every existing wind farm if they just swap out the turbines could be 15% to 25% more productive for the grid. that means no additional siting, that means no additional permitting. simply swachg out wind turbines and we could see a massive new increment of clean energy onto the grid. another area that is just spreading all across the country -- i was just talking to somebody in the capitol who was working in the rotunda as we were doing a live television show this afternoon. he just got solar. that's happening all across the country. but as you can imagine particularly in the state of hawaii, solar is just absolutely
3:09 am
going crazy. with costs up to 38 cents, 48 cents a kilowatt, solar makes a lot of sense for everybody. and we're doing utility scale solar but we're also doing distributed solar because people want to get -- they want to get their own savings. they want to participate in a clean energy economy, but more practically speaking, this isn't ideological, this isn't political. this is a pocketbook thing. they are doing the math. and people who are not democrats, not liberals, not independents don't wake up every morning like many of us thinking of how to solve this problem, but they are looking at their own bottom line and saying hey, solar makes sense. mr. whitehouse: would the senator yield? mr. schatz: i would be happy to yield. mr. whitehouse: michael bruin who is the head of the sierra club came in to see a number of senators the other day. he told an interesting story that lines exactly up with what senator schatz has said about solar being a pocketbook issue and not a political issue.
3:10 am
this story involved atlanta, georgia. not exactly a hotbed of liberal sentiment. in atlanta, the cost of solar on a residential rooftop, the cost of putting a solar panel on your home has now leveled out with the cost of electricity at the plug in your home, and so solar energy, residential installations started to boom. now, for economic reasons, the fossil fuel polluters were against that, and so the cocaine brothers and the polluters got behind this group -- and so the koch brothers and the polluters got behind this group called aleck, the legislative exchange council and tried to get through to them and they tried to put through a tax on rooftop solar
3:11 am
installations so if you put solar on your roof, you wouldn't get taxed for it because they didn't like the fact that solar had actually caught up to polluting fossil fuel power at the plug. so who came together to fight that tax? the sierra club and the tea party. the sierra club and the tea party worked together to beat that tax and to beat aleck and to beat the koch brothers and the polluters back on that. again, if you have got the sierra club and the tea party pulling side by side, you know it's not ideology. you know at that point it is a pocketbook issue that people are starting to see savings from putting solar on their own home and they don't want anybody to interfere with that. so there is a story from a long way away from hawaii, but it helps illustrate that point. mr. schatz: i thank the senator, and i will tell you that although our tea party, as you can imagine, is there in the
3:12 am
state of hawaii but not as strong as in other places across the country, we do have a strong strain of conservatives across the state of hawaii who want to get off the grid or at least want to participate in a clean energy economy, and it has to do with the very simple fact that we pay 38 cents a kill a watt-hour for the privilege of burning low sulfur fuel oil for electricity. that's not a left-right issue. that's a this makes no sense issue. that's why we have made such good progress, is that we're one of the very few states where we have good bipartisan consensus, and we have been moving forward with our clean energy initiative under a republican governor previously, with the participation of the republicans in our legislature, with our chamber of commerce, with our business roundtable, with our tourism industry, with our department of defense, and it's exactly what you are talking about. it is about doing what makes sense rather than subscribing to
3:13 am
any particular political ideology. mr. whitehouse: it's interesting that you should mention your chamber of commerce because we, too, in rhode island are seeing very active participation by our local chambers of commerce in green, solar, alternative energy, energy efficiency and other such endeavors. they see that it's a pocketbook issue. they see that it makes sense. it's a stark comparison with the so-called u.s. chamber of commerce, the national organization which tends to represent the multinational corporations, corporations that have very little, if any, allegiance to this country and the big polluters, and the u.s. chamber of commerce has been an absolute menace in terms of any responsible dealings with climate change. but as soon as you get away from the so-called u.s. chamber of commerce, the multinational chamber of commerce, it should probably be called, and get down to these chambers of commerce that are grounded in our states, that are grounded with local
3:14 am
businesses, that are grounded in common sense, you immediately see that they step right up and want to be a part of this solution. mr. schatz: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that we be given permission to engage in a colloquy. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schatz: thank you very much. one of the things i would like to add is a specific technology that's happening -- that's trying to be developed in the state of hawaii, and this is a perfect example of the kind of partnership between clean energy industry and some more traditional companies. it's called seawater air conditioning. it is -- even with my nonengineering background, i can understand it. it's cold water from -- from deep in the ocean that cools air conditioning systems. so rather than using electricity to try to cool water and cool air and blow it through, you just grab the cold air and put it into the pipes and it cools systems. this makes perfect sense for waikiki, for the physical plant
3:15 am
of waikiki and our millions and millions of visitors and our thousands and thousands of hotel rooms and our 38 cents a kill a watt cost. one of the highest cost drivers more than labor, more than our physical plant is the cost of energy for our waikiki hotels. we think that a private sector company that is trying to build a seawater air conditioning system right -- which will be environmentally consciously done, moving into waikiki can literally save 40% for all waikiki hotels. this is an extraordinary opportunity, and, you know, the sheraton and the royal hawaiian and the hilton hawaiian village and all these wonderful hotels, i know their g.m.'s, i know the work they do, i know their employees, and they are all doing great work but they are not interested in seawater air conditioning necessarily because of its environmental benefits. they are looking at saving 40% on their electricity bill, and that it just makes sense, and that's what this is all about.
3:16 am
mr. whitehouse: let me mention one thing. the senator from hawaii was good enough to mention that our hashtag tonight is up4climate with the four being a numeral. there was a remark made earlier that we're just going to be up late at night talking to ourselves and that nobody's going to be paying attention. well, the reports that i have are that league of conservation voters is tracking this with a web site, and 70,000 people have gone to their web site to support us in our effort tonight. 350.org has 15,000 people who have gone to their web site to support us. our own web site has 40,000 people for a total of 125,000 signatories just on these web sites.
3:17 am
we also have people who have been going out on twitter on this, and we have people like leader pelosi from the other side of the aisle. they are locked down hard by the polluters over in the house right now, but nevertheless speaker pelosi wanted her voice to be heard, leader pelosi, i should say, and so she has tweeted out and put out a release about this. o.f.a. has tweeted out about what we are doing tonight and they reach 42 million people. so if anybody thinks that nobody's listening to what's going on tonight, wrong. millions of people are following this on twitter, have been notified about it on twitter, and literally over 100,000 people have joined these web sites with more to come, i hope. mr. schatz: i'd like to ask the senator from rhode island to give us a little bit of context. the presiding officer and i are new to the senate. i think it's important to
3:18 am
understand tonight in context, now, from my perspective, having 30 senators on the floor to take the floor for about 15 cost-effective hours to talk -- 15 consecutive hours to talk about one topic, with the emphasis, with the clarity, with the unanimity of this group, 28 democrats and two independents is significant, it is historically important. but i'm wondering whether the senator from rhode island can give us a little context and let us know what has happened in the past and how you view tonight in the arc of our efforts to take action on climate. mr. whitehouse: i think this is an important turning point, an important launch point for the final phase of getting to responsible climate legislation. we were so close. we were heart breakingly close when the house had passed waxman-markey and in the senate we failed to bring up any bill
3:19 am
that could have gone to conference. we just failed to do it. and there was a period after that when the white house would barely mention climate change and it was deeply discouraging i think for people across the country to see the senate fail that way and the white house retreat that way. but that has changed. the white house is back. the president is reengaged. he has announced a really strong climate action plan that has as a critical element putting some regulation on the big power plants that are doing so much of the polluting. by the way, when i say big power plants are doing so much of the polluting, i mean 50 top polluting power plants in this country put out more carbon than korea which is a very industrialized country, put out more carbon than canada. that's just the top 50 polluting power plants. so that was a big shift when the white house did that, and this
3:20 am
signals a shift that is coming in the senate. and the next big shift that we need to get to is one where this line in the senate marking democrat from republican is not such a harsh line on this issue. there is no need for it to be. this has in the past been a bipartisan issue. senator lieberman on our side and senator warner on the republican side did one of the early climate bills. this is an issue where republican candidates for president who served here still campaigned for president on the issue of climate change. there is a member on the other side of the aisle who was the original cosponsor of a climate fee bill. there are republican members who when they were in the house
3:21 am
voted for waxman-markey. there are a number of republican senators who have publicly said they think a carbon tax or a carbon fee is a sensible idea or is an idea they would support under the right circumstances. so there is a great opportunity to reach to colleagues on the other side of the aisle. once you get passed people who are elect the politically, you see republicans in abundance supporting doing something about climate. you discussed earlier -- the presiding officer, the distinguished senator from new jersey, discussed earlier the republican former e.p.a. administrators who came afford d to say, hey, guys, you have got to be responsible about it. george schultz has campaigned for a carbon fee to put a proper price on carbon.
3:22 am
former representative bob inglis is out barnstorming around the country arguing that there should be a republican conservative carbon fee proposal. so even though that side of the senate has been empty all night since senator inhofe left -- and he was here to deny that there was a problem -- so there's been no voice for doing anything responsible about climate change all night from that side of the aisle. it's been absolutely silent, absolutely empty. but it's closer than it looks when you actually look at the history of members on that side of the aisle, when you look at the position of republicans who are not up for election. shat shat i just wanschatz shaik -- mr. schatz: i just want to talk about how i think taking action is consistent with conservative principles. my understanding of conservative principles -- and i am a progressive. but my understanding of
3:23 am
conservative principles are basically that you value incrementalism, that you understand the importance of institutions, that you try move slowly, where possible, that you try not to make radical changes to communities or societies or organizations unless it is absolutely necessary. and there is no more radical change that we could make to our economy, to our physical environment, to our communities, to our government than to allow climate change to move forward. so it seems to me that what the senator is saying is exactly right. there are plenty of conservatives who are prepared to take action in this area. right now what we need is a republican dance partner. and i think we have them. i think there are those who understand and may have quiet conversations with us and nod and agree that the situation is getting increasingly dire and increasingly real and scientifically based in fact. but they don't want to be the
3:24 am
first one caught making sense. they don't want to be putting themselves at the tip of that spear. so one of the reasons that we are here tonight is to hopefully galvanize the american public to go back to their more reasonable republican members and say, remember when you said you would be a middle-of-the-road republican? this is a way to demonstrate that you are a middle-of-the-road republican. that is way to demonstrate that you are a true moderate. when the department of defense is saying this is a real strategic challenge, this is not the province of the legal of conservation voters anymore. i love them. but, listen ... this is beyond conservation organizations. this is beyond my particular passion for hawaii's environment. this is about the future of the united states of america, and our economic viability. and so there are going to be republican dance partners, but we all, as -- not just as a senate but as a country have to create a political environment
3:25 am
in which they can operate with us and we can get to 60 votes. we don't have those votes right now. but, as the senator from rhode island said, you know, it always looks more difficult than it is, and it's always impossible until you get it done. and that's what this is about tonight. mr. whitehouse: and here is a fairly well-known republican conservationist, indeed perhaps the greatest conservationist president in american history, theodore roosevelt, a republican. he had two very important characteristics, that there is no reason the republican party should not be following today. one was he cared about america as a physical and spiritual space. it wasn't just about the money. it wasn't just about who could make money buying and sellings what, who could make money extracting this or doing the
3:26 am
other. he cared about america as a physical and a spiritual place. he would go out and camp in the forests with john muller to get the experience and to embody the body of america as a physical and a spiritual space. so that was one characteristic that was very important. here is the other one: he was willing to stick up against the big money. he was willing to tell the big money basically, i'm against you. i'm willing to have a fight with you. the fact that you are big money is not alone enough for your argument to prevail with me. he went after the big trusts, and he stuck up for the little guy against the big money. there is nothing that says the republican party couldn't do that again, although right now that is not their situation. i mentioned earlier how we have
3:27 am
a former republican presidential candidate who campaigned on climate change, how we have a republican senator who was a cosponsor of a climate fee bill, how we have a republican senator who voted for waxman-markey when he was in the house, how we have republican senators who have spoken for a carbon fee. all of that happened before 2010. what happened in 2010 that drove every republican back underground on this issue? i'll tell you what happened. the united states supreme court decided a case called citizens united, and the instant they decided citizens united, the koch brothers and the big polluters put enormous amounts of money into elections, and they didn't just put the money
3:28 am
into elections between republicans and democrats. they put money into elections between republicans and republicans. they went into primary elections. and they went after republicans who were not consistent with their orthodoxy on climate change. unless you are a denier, they either punished you or threatened you. and since that time, that's why there's been silence on the republican side. i.t. not because there's not a tradition -- it's not because there's not a tradition of republicans caring about the environment muc. the environment protection agency was established by a republican president. theodore roosevelt was our greatest conservationist. there is a republican tradition
3:29 am
of this. there is a republican tradition of standing up to the big money and sticking up for regular people. but not since citizens united, not since that baleful decision cast an absolute avalanche of dark money, of unlimited money and anonymous money into the elections. and i can -- i'll talk more about that later, but that is what the problem has been. and the only thing that it takes to cure that is for the republican party to become more worried about the reality of climate change and the opinion of the american public than they are about the koch brothers' millions and what's going to be spent against them. and if the american public makes it clear in the coming months that they are tired of congress being stuck, if the american public decides that it is time
3:30 am
to wake up here in congress, then the choice really becomes inevitable. as the senator from hawaii said, the dance partners on the republican side have to come off the wall and come back onto the dance floor, and there is a conservative way to do a carbon fee, as secretary schultz and reagan's budget officer laffer have all come afford to say. -- forward to say. mr. schatz: i would just say that there is another motivation that will come to bear among all of our colleagues, and actually the presiding officer talked passionately along these lines, and that is our conscience p. there is no doubt that there are people of good will on both sides of the aisle in this
3:31 am
senate and the house, and what is happening to people as a result of climate change pricks fen's conscience. i want to talk a little bit about a small island state that probably most people have never heard of. it's called kuribas. it has been a cautionary tale for low-lying places across the asian pacific and the world much it is 900 miles south of hilo. it iit's fanning atoll is the closest, making kirabis way closer to hawaii and california. the people of kirabas are our neighbors. they live on 21 of kirabas's islands, low-lying atolls where most of the population lives just two meters above sea level.
3:32 am
the close proximity to the sea is already taking its toll, as rising seas contaminate water tables with salt war, denewed fertile land and decimate the land that the crops can support. its president has taken great pains to focus attention on his country's plight. his sobering remarks from last november are worth recounting. "the outer island communities have been affected. we have a village which has gone. we have a umin of communities where the sea water has broken into the fresh water pond and is now affecting the food crops. that is happening on different islands. it's not an isolated event. serious inundation is being witnessed. these are the realities we are facing, whether they are climate change-induced or not. if you travel around kiribas it
3:33 am
is impossible to miss the long stretch of sea walls that people have built to protect their homes from the encroaching sea e besides the sea level rise, low-lying atolls like kirabas face risk of being po pummeled y the next tempest. places like kirabas face the risk of being storm surge and sea level rise amplified by the next typhoon that roars through the pacific, washing over runways, roads, and homes lying just above sea level. the risks are even more acute for families living in these pacific island states where, because of the limited space for agricultural and commercial development, population density remains extraordinarily high. take south turow anchts the capital of kirabas where the population is close to 5,000 people per square kilometer. one of the most density pop
3:34 am
populated areas on the planet. thesthese densely populated ares make mother nature's power even more devastating. the cards would appear to be stacked against places like kiribati. journalist jeffrey goldberg described it this way, "the apocalypse could come even soonerrer for kiribati if vilt storms of the sort that recently destroyed the philippines strike its islands. for all of these reasons, the 103,000 citizens of kiribati may conge become refugees. perhaps the first mass movement of people fleeing the consequences of global warming rather than war or famine." almost 6,000 nautical miles away in the indian ocean, the maldives face a similar fate.
3:35 am
the island sphait state of nearly 400,000 faces risks of sea level rise and extreme weather events that threaten to inundate its communities with as well as of storm surge that leave families and their loved ones literally under water. in 2009 leaders in the maldives staged a dramatic demonstration ahead of the u.n. climate change conference in copenhagen when they held a cabinet meeting on the bottom of the ocean floor to foreshadow their impending fate if the world failed to act in the face of climate change. maldives' president told observers, we're now actually trying to send our message. let the world know what is happening and what will happen to the maldives if climate change is not checked. if the maldives cannot be saved today, we do not feel there is much of a chance for the rest of the world. leaders spent 30 minutes on the
3:36 am
ocean floor that day. when later asked about what would happen if the u.n. climate change conference in copenhagen failed to produce an agreement among states, the president of maldives simply said, we are going to die. in addition to sea level rise, island nations face other immense challenges from climate change. slight changes in ocean temperature from increased warming and increased ocean acidity, which scientists explain as a consequence of oceans absorbing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, disproportionately affect communities living on island nations, and i'd like to ask the senator from rhode island to talk a little bit about ocean acidification and the impact it has on fisheries in the north eevment i know it has a real cull tiewrld and economic and environmental imract. and i'm not totally sthiewr people are fully grasping how
3:37 am
dangerous this is, not just from an ecological standpoint but from a food security standpoint, from a price of food standpoint, from the standpoint of jobs in the economy and i'm hoping that the senator from rhode island can elucidate this. mr. whitehouse: before i do that let me follow up on the point that senator schatz was making, because you don't have to go to faraway island nations to see people who are being hurt by rising sea levels and eroding shore linings. you don't have to go to island nations. you can go to rhode island and you can see it. here's a photograph of some homes at roy carpenter's beach on the south shore coast of rhode island in south county after hurricane sandy. this is governor chafee, former senator chafee. he used to serve right here in this body. and these homes -- i remember
3:38 am
speaking to a lady who was with us that day and i don't remember if it was this house or this house that was hers, but she had started coming as a very little girl. her childhood memories were on this beach. and this house used to have a lawn in front of it, and she can remember playing badminton on the lawn in front of her house. and on the other side of the lawn was a road, just a dirt road so that cars could come in and out, and on the other side of the road there was a parking lot where the cars could park, and on the other side of the parking lot began the beach. and she could remember, as many little children who have been to the beach can remember, that when that hot sun beats down on
3:39 am
the sand, it gets hot. and on the child's little feet, that heat -- that can hurt. and so she'd have to run. she'd have to run across this long expansive beach. she can remember the distance running across the hot sand until her feet got into the cool sparkling waters of the ocean. and those were her memories of rhode island summer, playing on the lawn, seeing the cars come to the beach, running across the hot sands to the cool water. and in her life tiernlg the -- r lifetime, the beach is gone, the parking lot is gone, the road is gone, the lawn is gone and the ocean is tearing out the underpinnings of these homes. and you can go as far away from rhode island in the united states as you can get on the mainland and where do you end
3:40 am
up? alaska. and what do you see? a very similar phenomenon of houses falling into the sea. this is a town called shishmaref. it's a little bit different in alaska as to the reasons, often because the ice that protects the shore from winter storms as the waves break against the ice and not the shore, the ice isn't there. the ice has melted away. so now the winter storms beat directly against the shore. and there are villages like shishmaref that have been at their location for as long as the memories and the traditions of the indigenous tribes who live there go. for as long as the memory of man runneth in those areas, those villages have been there, but now in a generation they're
3:41 am
going, and we see it in comparisons like this. this was again after sandy. here is a beachfront building at the south kingstown beach in rhode island. you can see the ocean right up against it. well, that's what it used to look like not too long ago, just 1994. this building is that building. this walkway is that walkway. and as you can see, this walkway is broken up by the storm. the ocean has now come to here. the entire beach has gone. so we see it in rhode island as much as we do in far away island kingdoms. but to your point about acidification, the seas are an
3:42 am
honest witness that oceans don't lie. you can measure what the oceans are telling us about climate change. and they're telling us that they are getting warmer. it's not complicated. you measure that with a thermometer. they are getting bigger, higher. the law of thermal expansion means that when you warm fluids, they expand and the seas therefore rise. you measure that with more or less equivalent of a yardstick. thermometers and yardsticks. it's not complicated. it's undeniable. the third piece as the senator mentioned is ocean acidification, which everybody who has an aquarium knows how to measure acidity. it's a litmus test. you can do it in any laboratory. you do it in school. it's not complicated, and you
3:43 am
can take measurements like that of the ocean and you can see that it is acidifying. it's acidifying for very simple reasons. a third of the carbon that goes into our atmosphere gets absorbed by the oceans. 90% of the heat from climate change gets absorbed in a the oceans, 30% of the carbon. and the oceans bear witness to what is happening. and right now if you look at the rate at which the oceans are acidifying, it is happening -- here is a graphic on the effects. where does the heat go? 93.4% goes into the oceans. 2.3% goes into the atmosphere. the oceans are getting bombarded with this heat. and they are also acidifying. mr. schatz: so, senator, what does that mean as a practical
3:44 am
matter for the fisheries industry, for the people who like to eat fish? what is the impact of ocean acidification? because you in very plain language explain the science of it. but what does this mean to a regular person? mr. whitehouse: when the carbon is absorbed by the ocean, it makes it more acidic, and when the ocean becomes more acidic, it makes it more difficult for all the little critters that live in the oceans that have a shell to make that shell, because shells are made out of something called calcium carbonate and the calcium carbonate is eaten away by acid waters. so it means that a small creature like a terrapod has a harder time making its little shell so that they don't grow as well and ultimately they could be eliminated by acidified waters.
3:45 am
now, who cares about the humble terrapod. most people have never heard about the humble terrapod. i will tell you who care about the terrapod. salmon care about the terrapod. for some species, it is a huge part of their diet. if they aren't there, then the salmon are in trouble. if the salmon are in trouble, then the salmon fishermen and the salmon fisheries are in trouble. it really hit home on the west coast of america a few years ago when oyster fisheries on the coast of washington, i think it was, but oregon was hit as well, literally got wiped out when sudden upwelling of pacific waters that had been heavily acidified washed into where the young oysters were being grown and the waters were so acid that the little baby oysters couldn't -- the little spat, they couldn't grow their shells. the water was too acid i can for
3:46 am
them to grow their shells -- acidic for them to grow their shells. you can say who cares about an oyster? those who grow oysters care a lot about them. it's a big industry in a lot of places. we're actually rather pride of our rhode island oysters. mr. schatz: you should be proud of your rhode island oysters. mr. whitehouse: i will turn it back to you, because one of the things hawaii is famous for and we don't have much of in rhode island is tropical coral reefs. coral reefs are affected by acidification, by runoff, by warming, and they can bleach, and when they do, what once was a healthy reef rich with fish, a nursery for all the species that we end up consuming can end up looking like this, dead remnants of what was once living coral. and i know hawaii faces that problem, so why don't i turn to you to discuss that.
3:47 am
mr. schatz: well, i think that it's really important to dwell on the question of what's happening to our oceans, not just because it's critically important but because i think that because it is more difficult to see, it doesn't get enough attention. what's happening to our fisheries is every bit as drastic, in some cases more drastic than what is happening in our agricultural sector, and yet when there is a drought or when there is difficulty in -- in our agricultural sector, it is amply represented in the united states senate by its -- by its able home state senators, and yet when there is a fishery difficulty, it is more difficult to pin down. it does not necessarily become the news story that a drought or any difficulty in a growing season may create, and this is something that we really have to talk about. both on the recreational
3:48 am
fisherman side as well as on the commercial fishing side. i know that in a lot of states in the southeast, in the northeast, on the west coast and certainly in hawaii, people who do -- who fish maybe recreationally, maybe for subsistence or maybe as a commercial venture, it is really part and parcel of the culture of the place. it is not purely an economic issue. it is something you do with your children and their children. it is part of where you live. it is part of what it means to be from hawaii or from louisiana or from florida or from rhode island. this is part of the american experience. and to the degree and extent that we are diminishing that experience. setting aside the economics for the moment, that's very significant. i know that people across the state of hawaii grew up fishing and treasure that opportunity to share what is in the ocean with
3:49 am
their families. mr. whitehouse: may i tell you a story about a rhode island fisherman? there is a fishing captain named christopher brown who came recently to testify before the environment and public works committee. he has been fishing all his life. he is a real rhode island fisherman. he used to go out with his dad, who was a rhode island fisherman, and when he was probably 20 years old, he built himself a fishing boat and then went out and began fishing on his own. he fished that fishing boat that he built for 30 years. he is the real deal when it comes to fishing. and he can remember as a boy fishing offshore with his dad, dragging nets behind them, trawlers. and now he goes out to those same waters, he gets completely
3:50 am
different fish. he says he pulled up a net full of spot. and when he was out with his dad, his dad virtually never saw a spot. he said now he's catching fish like grouper and tarpon that his dad never saw in his life. the waters are changing. and when you have got regulations over what you can and can't catch that aren't keeping up with the changing fisheries, it's a nightmare for the fishermen. so we're going to do our best to up dade our -- update our fisheries laws, but the underlying problem is that fisheries that have existed for as long as rhode island fishermen remember them are changing in unprecedented ways. i will close, as one fisherman
3:51 am
said to me when he came to visit here in washington maybe a year ago. he said something unforgettable. he said sheldon, it's getting weird out there. mr. schatz: that's right. and i thank the senator from rhode island. i'm going to talk about something that i -- i think is astonishing, and the senator from new mexico earlier talked about this, but this is mind-boggling to me and it may be a surprise that the senator from hawaii is talking about this, and i have a 10-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. it has been at least that long since i have been snowboarding, but i enjoyed it when i was a lot younger and my knees were better, but what is happening to winter recreation is really bad news. one source states that roughly 23 million people participated in winter sporting activities,
3:52 am
adding $12 billion to the economy and employing almost 212,000 people. roughly 20 million americans over the age of 6 ski or snowboard. the industry generates more than $11 billion across 38 states. now, you don't have to be a climate scientist to recognize that ski areas are dependent on consistent, plentiful snow. and you don't have to be an economist to realize that ski areas are only sustainable in places with plentiful snow and cold weather, aside perhaps from the indoor ski slopes in certain places like du bois -- dubai. so what does it tell you when you see ski resorts struggling to meet their bottom line in winters so warm that even with enormous artificial snow systems, they can't keep snow on their mountains? mountains can't move, mr. president. they cannot migrate. so when the climate warms, ski resorts that depend on them face
3:53 am
difficult choices, if they have any choice at all. according to one study on the impact of climate change on the ski and snowboard industry, more than half of all ski resorts in the northeast will no longer be viable by 2039. i will repeat that. more than half of all ski resorts in the northeast will no longer be viable by 2039. another study of washington state ski resorts found that almost 13% of the ski areas in the cascades and fully 61% of the ski areas in the olympic mountain range are at risk from the future effects of climate change. another study of ski areas in southern ontario, canada, caution that by the year 2080 with current snow-making technologies, the ski season will be reduced by anywhere from 11% to 50%. operators of ski areas don't have too many ways to adapt.
3:54 am
they can move their runs to north-facing slopes, landscape trails to reduce the need for snow pack and move to higher altitudes. all of these efforts, however, involve massive capital investments, and it's difficult to know the certainty of these changes are real solutions or just stopgaps. of course, skiing and snowboarding are just two examples of outdoor recreational activities that are increasingly in peril as a result of future climate change. sportsmen like hunters and fishers should keep a watchful eye on the changing climate as well. we all know that americans in every state love to hunt and fish. in 2011, almost 14 million people or 6% of the united states population 16 years old and older went hunting. hunters spent $34 billion on trips, equipment and licenses.
3:55 am
more than 33 million people 16 and older fished in 2011, spending almost $42 billion on trips, equipment, licenses and other items. as the climate warms, hunters and anglers will see decreased opportunities as a result of lower stream flows, population declines and changing migration patterns. organizations such as the theodore roosevelt conservation partnership which exists to promote hunting and fishing recognize this trend and believe it is in the best interests of the hunting and fishing communities to take action on climate change. the organization's director bill geer published a cautionary note in 2012 that is worth recounting. contentious or not, climate change is real and it is already affecting our natural resources, fish and wildlife and outdoor opportunities. at the theodore roosevelt
3:56 am
conservation partnership, we aim to educate sportsmen about the effects of climate change and ensure sportsmen involvement in mitigation effort. this is another example of conservatives, of independents, of progressives, of basically everybody outside of the four corners of the united states capitol recognizing that what is actually happening is actually happening. it is only in the four corners of this capitol that the debate ranges on as if we can ignore the facts of the matter. this is no longer combined to conservation organizations or people who are concerned primarily with by logical diversity, and look, i am a hiker, i am a surfer, i love hawaii's natural environment in particular. so that is the origin of my passion for this issue, but the way that this issue has evolved, it is way beyond any of those questions. it is national security. it is economic security. it is our ability to grow our
3:57 am
own food and catch our own protein. it is literally the american way of life that is at stake here. i think the reason we have had such great participation last night and well into the morning is because there is a growing recognition on left, right and center that we have got to take action. mr. whitehouse: to follow up on senator schatz's point and in terms of the bipartisanship that we can shoap for here sooner or later, -- we can hope for here sooner or later, the skiing question and snowboarding question that senator schatz raised, the park city foundation in utah, which runs all of the park city resorts, the park city foundation in utah predicts an annual local temperature increase of 6.8 degrees fahrenheit by 2075. that would cause a complete loss of snow pack in the lower park city resort area, a complete
3:58 am
loss of snow pack. the foundation, this utah foundation estimates that it will result then in thousands of lost jobs, tens of millions in lost earnings and hundreds of millions in lost economic growth. we have to be able to find a way to work with senators from utah on that. and the point that senator schatz made about the northeast comes home because when you drill down into the report a little further, they say that the number of economically viable ski locations in new hampshire and maine will be cut in half, that skiing in new york will be cut by three quarters. i don't know what that does to skiing in new jersey, mr. president, but i will say that they said that there will be no ski area in connecticut or massachusetts. they overlooked rhode island. they didn't mention rhode island. but i can promise you, knowing geography, if there is no ski area that can survive in connecticut or massachusetts, then yogu valley in rhode island
3:59 am
is in trouble. that's our ski slope. so this really does hit home. i want to mention that the bicameral task force that henry waxman and i run brought in all the major sports leagues to talk about how climate change is affecting their sports. we had the national basketball association, we had major league baseball, we have the u.s. olympic committee, we had the national football league and we had the national hockey league. and they all agreed that we needed to take action on climate change. and in particular, the nhl talked about the history of their sport with kids growing up and playing on frozen ponds. many of those frozen ponds don't freeze any longer or they freeze so little that a child really doesn't have a chan to learn to to -- chance to learn to skate and develop their skills out on the pond. so the nhl has been active in this, and i appreciate that. the other point i wanted to mention is that a lot of these
4:00 am
winter sports are part of the winter olympics, and there was just a study done by the university of waterloo that took a look at all of the different locations in which there have been winter olympics. all the way up to sochi here. and the green shows that from 1981-2010, all of those locations for winter olympics were climate reliable for snow conditions. then they run a couple of different scenarios. 2050 with low emissions. 2050 with high emissions. 2080 with low emissions. 2080's and one by one, the sites of winter olympics fall away as reasonable sites. if you go to the

60 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on